Bush, Class of ’ 48, al­ways car­ried Yale with him

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - News - By Mark Zaret­sky mark. zaret­sky @ hearst­medi­act. com

NEW HAVEN — The late Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H. W. Bush lived in Texas and Maine, held the na­tion’s high­est of­fice for four years and had an im­pact on the world — but while he moved out of New Haven decades ago, he car­ried Yale with him wher­ever he went.

Long be­fore Bush, the na­tion’s 41st pres­i­dent, took that distin­guished ti­tle, he was mem­ber of Yale Univer­sity’s Class of 1948; a World War II avi­a­tor who came to Yale on the G. I. Bill. He also was cap­tain of its base­ball team and — like his fa­ther, Prescott S. Bush, and most fa­mous son — a life­long mem­ber of Skull & Bones, Yale’s old­est and most fa­mous se­cret so­ci­ety.

Bush had deep fam­ily con­nec­tions to Yale, ac­cord­ing to his Yale obit­u­ary. His fa­ther, Prescott Shel­don Bush, grad­u­ated in 1917, and three sib­lings, four neph­ews, two cousins, his son Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush — who was a mem­ber of Yale’s Class of 1968 — and his grand­daugh­ter, Bar­bara Bush, Class of 2004, also are alumni.

“Yale has lost a loyal friend,” Yale Pres­i­dent Peter Salovey said in a state­ment Satur­day morn­ing. “Through­out his life­time, Pres­i­dent Bush ex­em­pli­fied the val­ues of ser­vice and lead­er­ship we seek to fos­ter at Yale.

“A dec­o­rated vet­eran, he spent three years as a naval avi­a­tor fly­ing com­bat mis­sions over the Pa­cific be­fore en­ter­ing Yale,” Salovey said. “Once here, he distin­guished him­self as a stu­dent and an ath­lete.

“One of the great first base­men and base­ball cap- tains in Yale’s his­tory, Pres­i­dent Bush re­mained an avid ‘ Bull­dog,’ a fan of Yale ath­let­ics, and an es­pe­cially ar­dent cham­pion of our stu­dent- vet­er­ans,” Salovey said. “He set an ex­am­ple of dig­ni­fied ser­vice to this coun­try that will con­tinue to in­spire fu­ture gen­er­a­tions at Yale.”

Bush, who died Fri­day at the age of 94, was pre­ceded in death by his wife of 73 years, Bar­bara. He shared some of his feel­ings about Yale while the two were vis­it­ing for the 50th class re­union of Pres­i­dent Bush’s class of 1948 on May 29, 1998:

‘‘ I took away an aw­ful lot about the real busi­ness of liv­ing, about the im­por­tance of friend­ship, about the im­por­tance of try­ing to un­der­stand the world as it re­ally is, and it’s served me in good stead all my life,’’ Bush said of his time at Yale, in a story writ­ten by for­mer Reg­is­ter re­porter Walt Kita. ‘‘ I will al­ways be grate­ful to this in­sti­tu­tion.’’

Bush’s Yale base­ball team went to two Col­lege World Se­ries and is con­sid­ered one of the best Yale has ever had.

The for­mer pres­i­dent and his wife, Bar­bara, who died ear­lier this year, joined about 200 mem­bers of Yale’s Class of 1948 in the Yale Com­mons that day for the ded­i­ca­tion of a por­trait in Bush’s honor.

The 7- foot by 5- foot oil paint­ing by artist Ron­ald Sherr shows Bush in an over­coat and red tie at the south en­trance of the White House.

‘‘ In the long his­tory of this in­sti­tu­tion there are pre­cious few who have done more for God, and for coun­try, and for Yale,’’ for­mer Yale Pres­i­dent Rich- ard C. Levin told Bush at that time. ‘‘ Thank you for liv­ing the kind of life other Yalies would do well to em­u­late.’’

Bush, a grad­u­ate of Phillips Academy in An­dover, Mass., en­listed in the U. S. Navy on his 18th birth­day af­ter the United States en­tered World War II fol­low­ing the bomb­ing of Pearl Har­bor on Dec. 6, 1941, ac­cord­ing to his Yale obit.

Af­ter com­plet­ing train­ing, he re­ceived his com­mis­sion and be­came the youngest naval avi­a­tor at that time. Bush flew com­bat op­er­a­tions in the Pa­cific the­ater and par­tic­i­pated in the res­cue of sev­eral fel­low ser­vice mem­bers dur­ing World War II. He was shot down in an op­er­a­tion 500 miles from Ja­pan and later res­cued by a U. S. sub­ma­rine, the obit says.

He was awarded the Distin­guished Fly­ing Cross, three Air Medals, and the Pres­i­den­tial Unit Ci­ta­tion.

Bush re­ceived an hon­orary dis­charge af­ter Ja­pan’s sur­ren­der in 1945 and en­rolled at Yale. Like many in his class, Bush was a re­cip­i­ent of the G. I. Bill, and he com­pleted his un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in eco­nom­ics in an ac­cel­er­ated pro­gram in just two and a half years, ac­cord­ing to his Yale obit.

The Bushes lived in New Haven for about three years, said Ju­dith Schiff, chief re­search ar­chiv­ist at Yale.

While they were al­ready mar­ried when they ar­rived in New Haven when Ge­orge Bush en­tered Yale in the fall of 1945, “he started his mar­ried life in New Haven,” Schiff said.

At first, they lived in a “tiny, adorable” apart­ment on Chapel Street, ac­cord­ing to Bush’s Yale obit, quot­ing Bar­bara Bush’s mem­oir.

But they had to leave that apart­ment, at Chapel and Park streets next to what is now The Study ho­tel, af­ter the birth of their son Ge­orge W. Bush, said Schiff.

In essence, “they were evicted when the land­lord heard they were go­ing to have a baby in ad­di­tion to a dog,” she said.

Then the Bushes moved to a house at Whit­ney Av­enue and Ed­wards Street, with an ad­dress on Ed­wards, and re­mained there un­til space was avail­able in a con­verted man­sion next to the Yale pres­i­dent’s house on Hill­house Av­enue — a board­ing house at the time for mar­ried cou­ples who were stu­dents.

The build­ing now houses Yale’s Eco­nom­ics Depart­ment, but at the time it was home to 10 Yale cou­ples and their chil­dren, who shared the kitchen and bath­rooms, Schiff said.

Through­out his long ca­reer as a pub­lic ser­vant, Bush “cer­tainly was the em­bod­i­ment of the so­called ‘ Yale spirit’ of hard work and pub­lic ser­vice, pred­i­cated on the idea “that your Yale ed­u­ca­tion only be­gins when you grad­u­ate,” Schiff said.

For Bush, “it was al­ways coun­try over party,” al­though “be­ing a good fa­ther” trumped all, she said.

“He set a great model of be­hav­ior for every­body,” Schiff said. “He was Phi Beta Kappa and the cap­tain of the base­ball team,” as well as a dec­o­rated vet­eran, she said.

State Se­nate Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Pro Tem­pore Len Fasano, R- North Haven, said in a re­lease that Bush “was a man of honor, grace and class.”

“He was hum­ble, com­pas­sion­ate and he loved his coun­try,” he said in the re­lease. “His was a life ded­i­cated to serv­ing oth­ers. He in­spired us by em­pha­siz­ing how we can lift each other up through some form of com­mu­nity ser­vice. How proud we all are of his Con­necti­cut con­nec­tion.”

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